The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia: Kid Friendly Guide
The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia is one of the oldest centers of science education in the United States and competes for title of the of the best science museum, or at least one of the best, in the world.
This incredible museum has loads on hands-on activities that both kids and adults will love. The entire museum is dedicated to the spirit of inquiry and the current mission of the Franklin Institute is to make science and technology education accessible for everyone.
You can’t help but be amazed as soon as you walk up the steps to the Benjamin Franklin Memorial Hall. From there you can easily spend a full day exploring the many permanent and special exhibits.
The Giant Heart
One of the most unique and iconic exhibits at the Franklin Institute is the giant heart exhibit. This human heart is large enough that you can walk through it and get an inside look at the chambers of the heart. Outside the heart exhibit you can learn more about how the heart works, with a look at a heart inside a body, activities on how blood circulates and more!
Related: Check out our guide to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia!
Kids will love this exhibit about our home planet. Build a structure and then see if it will withstand an earthquake. You can learn about how tectonic plates work and why earthquakes are such a big deal.
Pretend you are a meteorologist and film a weather broadcast on the green screen!
And you can even calculate your carbon footprint.
Sir Isaac’s Loft
Everything in Sir Isaac’s Loft is hands-on experimentation and all about physics! If you are familiar with the Maryland Science Center, this exhibit is a lot like Newton’s Alley.
See if you can lift your own body weight. Experiment with a sand pendulum.
And you will be mesmerized by the George Rhoads kinetic sculpture– a contraption that is very much like a Rube Goldberg machine.
Related: Guide to the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences
You will be shocked (had to go there) with how electrifying (and again) this fun exhibit is! Use your body to complete a circuit and conduct some experiments about how light bulbs work, and more!
Do you have a budding rocket scientist or astronaut? If so, you will absolutely want to check out the Space exhibit. You can get an inside look at how the moon works or see if you can construct a rover that would work on the moon’s rocky surface.
Related: Check out this Kid Friendly Guide to the National Air and Space Museum in DC
If you like playing sports or would just like to see how your body works to play in general, the SportZone exhibit is really a ton of fun. See if you have what it takes to ride the waves as a surfer.
Practice your jump shot. Or race yourself or a friend and see how your muscles impact speed.
Related: Fun Things to Do With Kids in Pittsburgh
The Train Factory
Climb aboard the massive 350-ton Baldwin 60000 steam locomotive. Yes, this massive train is actually inside the Franklin Institute and you can hop inside.
While exploring this exhibit, see if you can design your own train and learn how magnets work.
Related: The B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore is perfect for train lovers!
Tech Studio is another great hands-on exhibit where you can take on engineering challenges and see if you have skills for design.
Everyone will love watching the 3-D printer as well. It’s always creating something fun and it’s super interesting to see how a 3-D printer works.
The biggest draw of this aerospace-themed exhibit is the T-33 Jet. You can crawl into the cockpit and pretend you are a test pilot!
Hands-on exhibits teach the principles of aerodynamics like how airflow impacts flight, how the angle of a wing can give lift, and more.
There are some great historical exhibits inside the Air Show as well. There is an original 1911 Wright Model B Flyer on exhibit, as well as plenty of stories of aviation heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen.
Related: Head to the Philadelphia Zoo with your kids! Check out this guide.
A companion exhibit to the Giant Heart, Your Brain dives deep into what makes your brain work. This is just a really fun and cool brain exhibit and kids, in particular, will totally dig the indoor play area that replicates the synapses and neurons inside the brain (not really.. But it looks super cool).
You can see an actual brain and brainstem, and then do a series of brain buster challenges to get firsthand experience with how the brain plays tricks on you!
This is a massive exhibit space with loads of fun and interactive mini-experiments to try with your kids!
Related: Port Discovery in Baltimore is a fantastic children’s museum. Check out our guide.
This fun exhibit delves into how a machine works and through a series of exhibits you can experiment with pulleys, gears, and more to create your own machine!
Fun Add Ons
In addition to the exhibits, don’t forget to catch a planetarium show at the award-winning Fels Planetarium, or one of the many live science shows that happen throughout the day.
The Franklin Institute is also home to the Tuttleman IMAX theatre. However, as of Spring 2023, it is not open.
Special Events and Exhibits
In addition to the fantastic permanent exhibits, The Franklin Institute is host to some pretty incredible special exhibits. We have attended a Disney Pixar exhibit, The Harry Potter Exhibit, and Disney100 Anniversary exhibit.
FAQ/Know Before You Go
There is a parking garage on site. It’s not a huge parking garage but very convenient, as you can take an elevator up to the ticketing desk and main exhibit hall.
If the parking garage is full there are tons of parking garage and street parking options in the immediate vicinity of the Institute.
The Eatery is the on-site museum restaurant and it’s actually pretty good. The space is large and airy and they serve kid favorites like chicken strips, as well as a decent selection of prepared sandwiches and salads.
The Franklin Institute is open Monday-Sunday from 9:30 am to 5 pm.
Located at the intersection of 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Address: 271 North 21st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Google Map Directions
Cost: $45 for adults, $41 for kids (with admission to special exhibits). $25 and $21 per ticket for the museum without the special exhibits.
You can also gain entry to The Franklin Institute with Philadelphia CityPASS.
For more information about The Franklin Institute, check out this link.